Hello! My name is Laura Iding and I write Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Thanks so much for inviting me to blog with you today.
I have a confession to make.
I had never read a medical romance before I sold my first book to Mills and Boon in December 2003.
I can hear the collective gasps from all of you reading this blog right now. What? How can this be? Doesn’t every editor and agent you meet at conferences tell you to read, read, read the various publishing houses to see what sorts of books they’re putting out and what sorts of manuscripts they may be looking for?
And don’t start thinking that I’m just one of those lucky people, because I’ve never won anything. Not random drawings out of a hat and certainly not the lottery.
Now I’m not telling you to ignore the sage advice you’ve been given by publishing professionals. I have always read romance. A lot of romance. I love romance! I’ve read mainstream romance and category romance for twenty years. So it’s not as if I was taking a total stab in the dark at the idea of writing a book.
But I do sometimes think authors who are striving to become published follow the rules to a fault. Or maybe you just haven’t broadened your ideas of what being published might look like. Are you convinced the genre you’re currently writing is the only one you want to do?
Sometimes I hear aspiring authors say, “I’m writing what I like to read.”
Clearly you need to know your market. But in my case, the road to publication took a bit of a detour that I hadn’t anticipated. And the detour went like this:
Setting: RWA National Conference in
July 2003 New York
Me: “Oh look, there was a spotlight on writing medical romance, but we just missed it, the session is already over.”
My Friend: “Yeah, but the editors are still standing over there. Quick, go up and talk to them.”
Me: “Okay, what could it hurt?” Step, step, step. “Hi, my name is Laura and
I’m a critical care nurse. I’m really sorry we missed your session on writing medical romances.”
Editor: “Oh a nurse! That’s wonderful. We love nurses and we’re really looking for American authors for our medical romance line.”
Me: “Well, I’ve never read a medical romance, but I have written several manuscripts aimed at the Intrigue line. I do have one that takes place in a hospital and the heroine is a nurse. Is that sort of what you’re looking for?”
Editor: “A hospital setting is great, but there really isn’t a lot of room for intrigue. We don’t want a complex mystery plot to detract from the romance. These books are relatively short and the focus should always remain on the conflicts and relationship building between the hero and heroine.”
Me: “Hmm. Well, I guess I could rip out the intrigue plot and throw in a little more romanc
e.” (Even though I wasn’t sure I could.)
Editor: “That would be wonderful! Here’s my card, why don’t you send me your complete manuscript when you’ve finished it?”
Me: (Taking the card) “Great. Thanks.”
And the rest is history, because that same book sold about three and a half months after I sent it to the editor of Mills and Boon located in
, with hardly any revisions. (A feat I have not quite mastered in the 17 books I’ve written since.) England
I’ve been fortunate to have read a lot of great medical romance novels since I sold. And I’ve been pleased with the occasional fan e-mails I’ve been getting from readers, telling me how much they love my books.
So what’s the moral of this story? (I know you’ve been waiting for me to get to the point.)
I’d never aspired to be a medical romance author, in fact, working in a hospital seemed anything but romantic to someone who works there. But I did take advantage of the opportunity I was given and managed through my detour to fulfill my dream of becoming a published author. And with every book I’ve written since, I’ve learned to hone my craft. If I had followed my first instincts of thinking I wouldn’t be interested in writing medical romance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So the moral is, open up your heart and your mind to all the publishing opportunities that are out there. If you do, maybe you’ll be soon living your dream too.
After all, isn’t romance (in all genres) all about the fantasy?
I’ll be around to answer your questions and to respond to your comments. Thanks for having me here, today.
Laura has graciously agreed to give away a copy of one of her Medical Romances to one lucky Seekerville guest who posts today. We'll release the name of the winner tonight at 8 pm, MST in the comments.